Ig Nobels feature exploding colonoscopies, bureaucracy, and why leaning to the left makes the Eiffel Tower seem smaller

Cambridge pageant of the scientifically bizarre delivers laughs, head-scratches

The Ig Nobel Prize ceremony has honored a wide array of strange research and advancement over the years, from exploding pants to woodpecker headaches to aggressive parking enforcement, and Thursday night’s ceremony in Cambridge, Mass., was no exception.

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The ceremony was opened with musical performances, including a team that performed with frog-based theremins, that set the tone for the evening.

Particular highlights included a Russian company that turns ammunition into trace amounts of diamond, Japanese engineers who developed a speech jamming device, and research into such critical topics as why coffee is so hard to carry without slopping and what makes a ponytail move the way it does.

Other honorees included the U.S. Government Accountability Office for its report on reports about reports – that report recommended a further report; a Swedish researcher who helped explain why blonde people in a Swedish town were developing green hair (copper pipes); and a team whose research found that the Eiffel Tower looks smaller to people who are tilting their heads to the left.

But the laureates themselves were far from the only attraction. Real Nobel Prize winners were among those in attendance to present awards, and a new opera – titled “The Intelligent Designer and the Universe” – was premiered.

Only the strict attentions of this year’s Miss Sweety-poos (a pair of eight-year old girls assigned to march onto the stage and repeatedly say “Please stop! I’m bored!” when a speaker’s time limit has been exceeded) kept the proceedings on track.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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